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A university library view


Presentation given by invitation at the JISC Collections' Publisher Workshop, 29th November 2007.

Presentation given by invitation at the JISC Collections' Publisher Workshop, 29th November 2007.

Published in Education , Business
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  • 1. Louise Cole Senior Information Advisor A university library view
  • 2. An aside …
    • Only started at Kingston (a Band D institution) in October so mainly taking examples from my 9 years working with e-resources at University of Leeds (a Band A institution)
  • 3. Summary
    • Trials
    • The subscription proper
    • What do academics want?
    • Some stories
    • Publisher mistakes
    • Good practice
    • The unforeseen …
  • 4. Trials
    • Sometimes not a trial to the whole product or very limited use
      • Prevents all stakeholders from evaluating
      • Reliability and suitability cannot be assessed
      • Technical issues not always checked
      • Software may not be downloadable
    • Trials sometimes place limited (IP only) or number restricted (one at a time) or time limited (7 or 14 days)
  • 5. Trials: the ideal
    • Time: at least 30 days and not targeted in the summer or in early autumn
    • Access: preferably on and off campus and unlimited access to all available content
    • Should consider a trial to be just that, a trial run of the product as if purchased
    • No licences unless absolutely necessary: take a lot of time to process
  • 6. The subscription proper
    • Order takes a long time
    • Often no access before payment has cleared, however small that payment is
    • Licences often sent out late, holding up the process as they need to be checked and approved
    • The ‘real thing’ doesn’t work when the trial did!
    • Incorrect URL / authentication …
  • 7. The subscription proper: the ideal
    • Set up access ASAP once a firm order has been placed
    • Licences provided in advance (and not just generic draft ones)
    • Customer/technical support in setting up the resource in early stages
    • Correct information provided re URLs and passwords
  • 8. What do academics want?
    • Quick and easy access at a date when the product is needed
    • Seamless process: they don’t care about delays and excuses
    • The full product, working from day one
    • No unexplained cut-offs, changes in authentication or product
    • A stable product throughout teaching time
  • 9. Some stories
    • Product A
      • Business database with financial statistics
      • No trial was allowed
      • Order took 3 months to process …
      • … and quote was changed during that time
      • Confusion over the licence
      • Next to no technical support
      • Billing severely delayed
      • Targeted students for more products!
  • 10. Some stories
    • Product B
      • Advertising resource
      • Trial allowed and customer rep helpful
      • Excellent feedback from faculty
      • Good usage statistics
      • When firm order placed, no contact …
      • … order abandoned after 6 months
  • 11. Some stories
    • Product C
      • Media resource
      • Trial proved unworkable as website out of action
      • Restricted numbers allowed
      • No confidence in product – order not pursued
  • 12. Some stories
    • Product D
      • Journal back file
      • Limited amount of downloads allowed
      • Exceeded in first few days so trial ended prematurely
      • Assumed ok because of current content
      • Licence proved difficult to obtain so relied on emails
  • 13. Some stories
    • Product E
      • Science database with full-text
      • Downloads enabled but not allowed during trial
      • Trial terminated due to ‘misuse’ after three days
      • Order for product not pursued
  • 14. Some stories
    • Product F
      • Science abstracting service with full-text
      • Software needed to view material
      • Software not available during trial
      • Order not pursued
  • 15. Publisher mistakes
    • Targeting the wrong people
    • No involvement or support after the sale has been made / ‘no name’ policy
    • Trials not allowed or when they are, they have not been thought through
    • ‘ Open access to all’ trials which raise expectations where assumptions are made
      • i.e. a trial title being linked from reading list
  • 16. Good practice
    • A trial should be the showpiece for a particular resource, not a trial in itself
    • Good documentation, good communication, flexibility (allowing more than one trial), understanding …
    • Send usage statistics for the trial period
    • … most of the time we do want to buy
    • Offer … but don’t hassle; if we want a trial, we’ll get back to you
  • 17. The unforeseen
    • People not available to assess the product
    • Open trials available at the wrong time
    • The funds might not be there although we like the product
    • Usage may be poor or non-existent
    • We might have had a trial without knowing it!
      • Faculty access for a year but no one said!
  • 18. In conclusion
    • The trial should be a product’s shop window so use it (or lose potential subs)
    • Be aware of semester dates, financial years, and other influences
    • Make it easy for us to subscribe to resources, not difficult
    • Establish good relationships built on mutual trust: think of your customer as ‘the good guy’!